Monday, March 11, 2013
Cubs' rotation depth being tested
By Jason Catania
Despite the additions of Scott Baker and Edwin Jackson via free agency, the Chicago Cubs' starting rotation was anything but settled at the back end. Unfortunately, a pair of injuries may have "solved" that.
Right-hander Matt Garza is dealing with a lingering left lat strain, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, and could miss the first month of the season. Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com has more on Garza's absence.
Meanwhile, Baker has been progressing in his quest to be ready to go by Opening Day after undergoing Tommy John surgery last April, writes MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, but the right-hander still could miss the start of the 2013.
Garza and Baker were locks to be in the five-man, but their injuries mean there are now potentially two openings. Aside from righties Jackson and Jeff Samardzija, who will be the Opening Day starter, Travis Wood -- the only left-hander of the group -- will have a spot, and
the club has said that Carlos Villanueva and Scott Feldman, two more free agent adds, will join the rotation, at least until either Garza or Baker is ready.
Unlike 2012, the Cubs actually have quality pitching depth to help cover for injuries, but it's certainly discouraging that the club already is having to eat into that quantity. Another problem is that Garza's trade value to the rebuilding team is now all but shot, as he also missed the final months of 2012.
FanGraphs' Paul Swydan, writing for ESPN Insider, says the Cubs' stable of arms could be a key factor in the team's fate for 2013 and beyond:
Paul SwydanPitching a turnaround on the North Side?
"Since the Cubs have six legitimate starters heading into the season in Scott Baker, Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Edwin Jackson, Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Villanueva, they will be better positioned to absorb Garza's departure. And that's before we consider [top prospect Arodys] Vizcaino, who should be ready to contribute by midseason, and could factor as a starter or reliever."